Steve Kimock Residency: Night III AT Sullivan Hall
Words & Photos By Karen Dugan (Tiny Rager)
For the last three weeks, Steve Kimock held residency at New York City's Sullivan Hall on the Lower East Side. The beauty of a residency is the opportunity to experience your favorite musician/group in various musical positions. Each week, Kimock was supported by a different line-up bringing us a dense Dead/New Orleans vibe the first week, creating vibrant jams with a younger generation of musicians the second week and finally destroying the audience with a fusion laden performance the third week.
The guests were as follows...
Henry Butler (Acclaimed NOLA Keyboardist)
Andy Hess (Govt Mule, Black Crowes, John Scofield)
John Morgan Kimock (Crazy Engine)
Marc Friedman (The Slip)
Adam Deitch (Lettuce, Breakscience)
John Molo (Bruce Hornsby, Phil & Friends)
Pete Sears (Hot Tuna)
Andy Hess (Govt Mule, Black Crowes, John Scofield)
w/ opening act Moonalice
Wednesday night's performance capped off what was truly a magnificent run of music. The heavy fusion style was deeply evident throughout the night's performance as Steve Kimock delivered to the audience what I am boldly going to have to put into my "Top 10 Favorite Steve Kimock Shows" list. I can hear the gasps now but just download the show at the end of this article and take a listen.
The rock solid rhythm duo in John Molo (Bruce Hornsby, Phil & Friends) and the phenomenal Andy Hess (Gov’t Mule, Black Crowes, John Scofield) alongside the gorgeous keyboard talent of Pete Sears (Hot Tuna) provided support for Kimock. These exceptionally seasoned musicians allowed Kimock to showcase his talents effortlessly, to an extent that a fire RARELY seen in our wonderful Mr. Kimock burst through over the progression of the night. Steve Kimock truly shined about as bright as I have ever seen him shine!
When I arrived at the intimate Sullivan Hall, Kimock and friends had just begun the Kimock original, “It's Up To You”. The placed was packed! I was drawn to the stage immediately as Andy Hess's bass lines wrapped themselves around my heart, pulling me closer. “Nang Chalk Pipe”, an Ernest Rangling cover followed. Jamaican guitarist and composer Ernest Rangling is someone I had never heard of until Kimock began covering this song. There is a guitar style found in nearly all ska music called "scratching" that some people might suggest was created by Rangling.
Kimock's slow, calculated intro into the Jimmy Cliff tune, “Many Rivers To Cross”, was an audience favorite. Kimock utilized his Hawaiian lap steel to create the draw that defines the song. It was sullen and romantic at the same time. Couples swayed and smiles abounded on the audiences faces.
The jam into “Baby Baby”, another Kimock original, was wicked with Kimock lifting off his seat and onto his feet with a smile creeping out from the sides of his generally stagnant lips as Andy Hess's bass line locked it down. For those of you not familiar with Andy Hess, I suggest seeing him immediately. He is an artist in our community who is criminally slept on, providing a solid foundation in every project he plays participant and is rarely given credit when credit is due. The ability of an artist to hold back is just as important in certain musical scenarios as raging through with your instruments. Musicians need to remember this, but a lot tend to forget it. When musicians play with artists like Steve Kimock or John Scofield, they must remember to allow these guitarists to shine and not overpower them for any reason. It's a skill you can only learn over time. Andy Hess can back any musician, allowing them to shine and still be dripping with sweat holding down his spot on stage with a fury. SOLID!
The second set was KILLER! A personal favorite, “Tangled Hangers”, had Steve dropping fusion-y solos and John Molo rocking the audience out. However, it was when the first note of “Tongue in Groove” hit that I became unbelievably happy as it is my favorite Steve Kimock tune. As I inhaled the gorgeous beginning of this song, I looked around at the room which was filled almost solely with older men. The masculine beauty of this song was not lost on a single man or women in the room. It's the ultimate love song. Half way through, Pete Sears destroyed a solo that elevated the jam immensely. So tight! I am going to let the video speak for itself.
“Golden Road” and its upbeat, dancing vibe brought out some hoots from the audience before people fell into their own dancing worlds. Peter Sears, another seasoned musician who knows how to withhold until given the window to let loose, showed his stellar ability on the keyboard without over shadowing Kimock. John Molo holding down the rhythm with Andy Hess was such a pairing, the two melded seamlessly together. At times, I kept thinking they should be recording this for a live CD release.
I believe that many people's disconnect with Steve Kimock possibly come from his lack of stage presence. I feel you on that. There are times where he literally disappears off the stage for me but he never falters in his sound. The new generation of music lovers enjoys a hype show. It craves that rager performance with the necessity of dancing and lights, the Chris Loftlins of the scene banging their heads and the Skeriks of the scene raging in our faces. But Kimock, well, he just sits on his stool with his glasses propped at the end of his nose dressed in all black, making it look effortless, almost boring as I know some feel. What you fail to see is that he is pulling things off that other guitarists can only dream of doing. So, when I watched as Steve Kimock walked to the microphone, busted out a killer smile and began singing “Slow Down”, which I believe is a Beatles tune, my jaw fell to the ground. YES, Steve Kimock sang. I couldn't understand a word he said and that didn't matter.
This third and final performance of Steve Kimock's residency had a distinct flow of comfortableness as a result of the musical experience that radiated off the stage that evening. Andy Hess, John Molo and Pete Sears showed us how to do things right, putting Kimock on his well-deserved pedestal as they all shined along with him at the correct times. And for someone who lacks stage presence during most of his performances, it was a wonderful treat to see Steve Kimock so spirited. Now all I have to say is, when can we see that happen again?
Set One: It's Up To You, Nang Chalk Pipe, Many Rivers To Cross, Baby Baby
Set Two: Tangled Hangers, Tongue in Groove, Golden Road, Slow Down
Steve Kimock Live at Sullivan Hall on April 6, 2011.